TIME Person of the Year signals change

 Columnist Kaitlyn Haas

Columnist Kaitlyn Haas

Fear has finally turned into fury, and that fury is leading to social change.This year, Time Magazine declared the Silence Breakers as Person of the Year 2017. The Silence Breakers are a brave group of women who no longer stand for remaining silent over their sexual harassment. They created the “#metoo” viral campaign that encourages women to come forward and address the men that violated them.

Time’s Person of the Year award is given to the person or group who had the greatest influence on society, whether that influence is for better or for worse. The Silence Breakers were chosen over people such as Colin Kaepernick, the face of the Black Lives Matter kneeling protest, the Dreamers, the undocumented students who lost their privileges this year, Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating Russia’s potential involvement in the Trump campaign and of course Donald Trump himself, last year’s winner, according to Time.

The movement was pioneered by activist Tarana Burke. Burke is the program director for Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity, and the idea of the campaign came to her when a young girl asked to speak to Burke privately. The young girl began to speak about the horrible things her stepdad was doing to her and Burke, a victim herself, couldn’t handle it. She sent her away but as she left, Burke found herself whispering, “me too,” Burke told CNN.

Many years later, as sexual assault becomes more and more common to both everyday people and celebrities, the whispered “me too” is a international movement. On Oct. 15, an actress and friend of Burke posted on her Twitter, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” according to the Huffington Post. 

In less than 24 hours, 12 million Facebook posts included the hashtag and nearly one million were posted on Twitter in 48 hours, according to CBS News. The hashtag was posted in many different languages as well such as, #BalanceTonPorc, #YoTambien and #Ana_kaman, to name a few.

Having such a progressive group be Person of the Year is a big message for society and hopefully will continue to be a revolutionary message. The world is finally listening to women about what we struggle with and have been forced to sweep under the rug for years. 

The piece on Time’s website about the 2017 Person of the Year not only acknowledges the big name stars whose name is attached to the movement, such as pop singer Taylor Swift, but political representatives like State Senator Sara Gelser and common people like strawberry picker Isabel Pascual. The article tells the gruesome stories of many women who have been silenced for years.

Compared to last year’s winner, Donald Trump, this is a step in the right direction. Although Time chooses the influential person whether it was a good or bad influence, it’s nice to see the good influence win over the bad influence.

These women have a message that needs to be spread to all genders, races, and ages. This movement is not just a safe place for women who have fallen victim but a message of true power and passion for all to hear and react to.

Our society’s unjust instinct to blame and question the victim may be on its way out. More and more women, celebrities and the average citizen, are reporting their unwanted sexual encounters. Change is finally coming for us and in a big way. Speaking out against sexual harassers, including our very own national leader, Donald Trump, is a step in the right direction. It’s time to push away the fear and follow the movement.